Netanyahu Responds to Kerry: Israel Will Not Be a Binational State

In a speech harshly critical of Israel, John Kerry warned that current trends in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are leading to a one-state reality.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses Knesset this morning, speaking just behind a menorah set up for the first night of Hanukkah. Jerusalem, December 6, 2015
Marc Israel Sellem

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded Sunday morning to John Kerry's warnings that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is trending toward a one-state reality on Sunday, saying that "Israel will not be a binational state."

Speaking at the beginning of the weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said that "Israel will not be a binational state, but in order for there to be peace, the other side needs to decide if they want peace. Unfortunately, this is not what we are seeing," adding that "the Palestinian Authority's incitement continues."

"I see [Saeb Erekat’s] office going to console the family of terrorists who tried to murder Jews," Netanyahu continued. "Not only did he not condemn the terrorist," he added, "but he goes to console the family, effectively giving support to acts of terror."

He emphasized that "anyone who wants peace must condemn these actions."

Addressing the Saban Forum in Washington, D.C., Kerry also warned of the Palestinian Authority's collapse and called on Netanyahu to prove that his support for the two-state solution isn't just a slogan but a part of Israeli policy.

The secretary of state made the remarks a week after visiting Jerusalem and Ramallah, a trip during which he failed to secure willingness on the part of Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to take confidence-building measures. Kerry admitted to feeling frustration vis-à-vis the process in a brief interview with former U.S. special envoy for Middle East peace Martin Indyk, who now serves as vice president of the Brookings Institute, which organizes the Saban Forum.

Kerry made clear in his speech that the U.S. remains committed to the two-state solution, but asserted that the two sides are the ones who must take decisions that affect their future.

Netanyahu also condemned the comments of Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström, who accused Israel of executing Palestinian assailants without trial, calling her accusations "outrageous."

"I guess Israelis are expected to offer their necks to those who wish to stab them," Netanyahu said. "This will not happen and we will continue to protect Israeli lives."

In response to the reports of Wallström's remarks, her press secretary Erik Wirkensjö noted that "the foreign minister did not say that Israel conducts ‘extrajudicial executions.’

"The foreign minister made a general statement about international law and the right to self-defense and the importance of proportionality and distinction. What she stated applies to all parties,” he added.